The rough-planned route. We didn't follow this exactly but mighty close. The day ended up with about 15 miles, 8,070' vertical gain and 12.5 hours (including a long swim break in lower S. Colony Lake.) We fast-hiked the entire route with the exception of running the last mile back to the car because we just wanted to be done.
After driving to the S. Colony TH (9,950') on Thursday night with Claudia and Hagen, we caught a few hours sleep, got up at 3am and were hiking by 3:45am. We reached the upper S. Colony TH an hour later.
We hiked the trail up to the saddle between Humboldt and the Bear's Playground, this big grassy meadow area at the head of the Spanish Creek basin.
At 6am the rising sun was splashing Crestone Needle with nice light.
Good morning! Crestone Needle (left) and Crestone Peak (right) at sunrise with the nearly-full moon on the far right.
We stayed high on the north side of the Spanish Creek Basin to avoid losing elevation en route to the Prow. We ended up too high and got cliffed out just after this photo so we dropped a few hundred feet and then back up.
The Prow is the obvious and bitchin' fin of rock leading directly to the summit of Kit Carson Peak (14,165')
At the base of the Prow at 7:30am. The Prow starts with a bouldery 5.8 section to surmount the undercut start and then cruises around the 5.6 level for 1,600' of fun.
Nat works through the start crux bulge.
Nat on the first pitch section.
The route's third pitch is extremely aesthetic especially in early morning light when the sun/shadow line is directly along the Prow.
Much higher on the route enjoying the cool conglomerate fun.
I've climbed the Prow four times but this may be the first photo of me on the route.
Nearing the top of the fifth class climbing.
Above a feature known as the "Kit Carson Avenue" is one more fun fifth class pitch to a short knife edge to the summit.
On the summit of Kit Carson Peak at 9:00am with Nat finishing up along the summit ridge.
I won the best sandwich award for the day.
We had the summit of Kit Carson to ourselves for our 15 minute break. For being monsoon season, the weather was spectacular. We were feeling hopeful we'd be able to climb the Ellingwood Ledges on Crestone Needle in a couple hours.
From KC's summit we stayed high and went over the summits of Columbia Point (foreground, in shade) and "Kitty Kat Carson"
Looking back at the awesome Prow while hiking over to Columbia Point.
On the summit of the-summit-formerly-known-as-Kat Carson (now Columbia Point) at 9:40am.
Looking cool while staying cool. Traversing below "Obstruction Peak" en route to the Bear's Playground.
Hiking back through the Bear's Playground with the faux Prow (the south ridge of Kitty Kat Carson).
We took this loose gully down from Bear's Playground to go more direct to the base of the Ellingwood Ledges.
With the weather holding nicely, we started up the direct start to the Ellingwood Ledges route at 11:15am.
The direct start follows this huge corner system for a few hundred feet.
Above the direct start pitches we took off our rock shoes and donned our trail runners again for the next hundreds of feet of mostly fourth class.
Looking up hundreds of feet of fourth class to the final couple pitches of fifth class climbing below the summit of Crestone Needle.
Mostly fourth class but a touch of real climbing here and and there.
McKayla was not impressed.
Booty! This slung hex was wedged pretty good along the 5.5 pitch.
Nat climbing through the 5.5 pitch below the route's crux 5.7 pitch below the summit.
At the base of the crux 5.7 pitch we donned our rock shoes again. The pitch climbs this corner with a short bulge section that makes the route's crux. Above the crux we went back to our trail running shoes and to the summit!
On the summit of Crestone Needle at 1:00pm. Nat's first time on Crestone Needle (and fifth 14er summit total) and my ninth time on this summit. I ♥ the needle.
We descended the standard 3rd class ascent route up the needle's south side down to Broken Hand Pass and back to the car.
But first, we had to stop for a swim in lower S. Colony Lake to cap off the big day. The day had stayed warm and dry and I was stoked to have this idea come to fruition. Thanks to Nat for his enjoyable and competent company.